In the previous 14 years of the Louisville Polar Plunge, there had been a number of interesting, exciting and touching moments, but there had never been anything like what happened shortly after the start of the 15th Louisville Polar Plunge at Tumbleweed on the Waterfront on Feb. 23.
The Plunge started just like its 14 predecessors had. There was the always interesting costume contest and parade of costumed Polar Bears, hosted this year by Mandy Connell of 84 WHAS. There was a check presentation from presenting sponsor and host Tumbleweed and celebrity Plungers that included Tumbleweed CEO and COO Mike and Matt Higgins and Voice-Tribune editor Angie Fenton. Later, Lachlan McLean from 84 WHAS and David Scott, Kelly Davis and Jessica Denson of WDRB joined in.
|Sergeant Shaun Delong proposed
to girlfriend April Pikago before
he took (the other) Plunge.
But after the Opening Ceremonies and before the Polar Plunge really got rolling, an Army sergeant from Fort Knox took a plunge that makes most men more nervous than the thought of diving into the Ohio River in February. Sergeant Shaun Delong from Fort Knox was called out onto the dock with just him and girlfriend April Pikago. Connell asked Delong a couple of questions about taking the Plunge before turning the mic on Pikago. When Pikago told Connell she wasn't plunging, the talk show host started to ask what Pikago was doing on the dock, but by the time she was halfway through the question, Delong was on one knee brandishing a shiny new engagement ring. It is believed to be the first wedding proposal in Kentucky Polar Plunge history. For the record -- she said yes.
There were two big additions to the Polar Plunge this year. The first was the Plunge Village entertainment area, which stayed crowded throughout the day. There was food and beverages and the area served as the interview area for the Polar Plunge Broadcast on SOKY TV. DJ Red Ryder and Brent Rogers from Sounds Unlimited Productions provided a great setup with DJ Red Ryder playing music throughout while emcee Brent Rogers patrolled the Plunge Village area talking to partying Polar Bears.
There was also the first ever Pee Wee Plunge, where kids who didn't want to jump in the River could still raise money and slide down an inflatable water slide into a small pool.
The day overall had a very celebratory feel, appropriate for a 15th Anniversary party.
|The Shiverin' Shamrocks -- with a number
of young plungers -- won the Polar Cup
for the biggest school group.
On the docks, nearly 1,100 people took the Plunge, raising more than $308,000 for Special Olympics Kentucky.
Of those 1,100, 88 were from longtime Polar Plunge fixture Team Ice Socks. Once again this year, the Ice Socks were the overwhelming largest corporate team with their 88 plungers and the Top Fundraising Team at nearly $66,000 raised.
This year the Ice Socks added a special touch to their annual team Plunge shirts. The backs carried a "Save the Bins" message, referencing SOKY's efforts to maintain our clothing recycling fundraising program. The Ice Socks originate with Champion Trucking and team captain Russell Miller (who was once again named the King of the Plunge, raising more than $8,900), but they are made up of businesspeople from around the area, many of whom receive support from their companies. One was Chris Smyth, whose company Wehr Constructors allowed him to use company time to collect and drop off donations that totaled more than $3,200.
Russell Miller wasn't the only individual Plunge award winner from the Ice Socks. Kelly Brinker reclaimed her crown as Queen of the Plunge, raising more than $3,500. Also, Miller's wife Denise was named Top Too Chicken Fundraiser (for somebody who wants to raise money to support the Plunge but not jump) for the third consecutive year after raising more than $3,200.
And while there may be nobody who can match the size and fundraising might of the Ice Socks, there were other great stories. The team from Amazon.com (formerly Zappos.com) that has participated in the Plunge for several years voted this year to contribute their vending program money to the Plunge. So one quarter at a time throughout the month of December, Team Amazon raised an amazing $15,700 that went toward their Plunge.
|Nearly 1,100 people took the Plunge for Special Olympics in Louisville as the event celebrated its 15th Anniversary.
Other award winners were Patrick Wheat-Lindsey of Team Smash and Maddie Gamertsfelder of the Texas Roadhouse team who were named Prince and Princess of the Plunge (top boy and girl fundraiser ages 6-12), respectively. Wheat-Lindsey raised $1,000 and Gamertsfelder raised $2,045.
This year SOKY created a new award for the Top Fundraising Special Olympics athlete to help recognize the contribution that our own athletes make to raising money for Special Olympics at the Plunge. The inaugural award went to 2006 National Games Gold Medallist Lindsay Davis who jumped with the Mountjoy Chilton Medley Numb-N- Numbers.
See Photos of the 2013 Louisville Polar Plunge
The remaining Polar Cups went to Louisville Corrections FOP Lodge 77 in the Law Enforcement Division and the Shiverin Shamrocks in the School Division. FOP Lodge 77 had 15 members jump, raising $3,651.25. The Shamrocks had 37 plungers -- many children -- and raised $6,361. The Shamrocks also produced the Top Fundraising Pee Wee Plunger in Kyndal Ganoe who raised $302.
This year's costume contest winners were Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompas from Fulfillment Concepts in the Best Group Costume Category and the Old Time Bathers in the Best Individual/Couple Costume Category. The FCi team warmed up for the Plunge by producing their own Harlem Shake video.
Watch the rebroadcast of the
2013 Louisville Polar Plunge
Our thanks to everyone who made the Plunge such a tremendous success, especially co-emcee Brent Rogers and DJ Red Ryder of Sounds Unlimited Productions whose work made a huge difference in the event atmosphere; presenting sponsor Tumbleweed on the Waterfront who hosted the event for the fifth year; WDRB, 84 WHAS, WQMF, 93.1 The Fox, and Radio Now 98.9 — all of whom dedicated air time to promoting the event; Watson's Pools, which provided hot tubs for the event; The Kentucky Law Enforcement Torch Run, which produced the event and also had several members take the Plunge and AAA Travel which provided a Caribbean cruise for two on Carnival Cruise Lines that went to a Polar Bear drawn from qualifiers at all six Kentucky Polar Plunges this year. Thanks as well to Krispy Kreme, who provided donuts and hot chocolate for the Polar Bears and spectators
We also, of course, need to thank the men and women of Louisville Metro Police and Fire Departments who made sure that everyone who went into the Ohio River as part of the Polar Plunge came out safely.
The Louisville Plunge was one of six Polar Plunges held in Kentucky this year, with other events in Bellevue, Lake Cumberland, Lexington, Owensboro and Western Kentucky. In all more than 2,800 people took the Plunge this year for Special Olympics Kentucky, raising more than $688,000.
2013 Louisville Plunge Award Winners
King of the Plunge — Russell Miller; $8,926 raised
Queen of the Plunge — Kelly Brinker; $3,271 raised
Prince of the Plunge — Patrick Wheat-Lindsey; $1,000 raised
Princess of the Plunge — Maddie Gamertsfelder; $2,045 raised
Top Too Chicken Fundraiser — Denise Miller; $3,233 raised
Top Special Olympics Athlete Fundraiser
— Lindsay Davis; $545 raised
Polar Cup Corporate Division — Ice Socks (Champion Trucking); 88 members, $66,458 raised
Polar Cup School Division — Shiverin' ShamRocks; 37 members, $6,361 raised
Polar Cup Law Enforcement Division — Louisville Metro Corrections FOP Lodge 77; 15 members, $3,651 raised
Top Fundraising Team — Ice Socks (Champion Trucking); 88 members, $66,458 raised
Best Group Costume — FCi Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompas
Best Individual Costume — Old Time Bathers